Sulphur Springs' Connection
to Lake Fork Explored
by: Shane Shepard
Community Development Director
Sulphur Springs is in a fortunate position to be the largest city near one of the most popular lakes in the State of Texas. Lake Fork has approximately 150,000 visitors per year. Most of the visitors are fellow Texans from nearby areas, Dallas (26%) and Houston. Others come from as far away as Seattle, Florida, Maine and California. There is a solid stream of inquiries that come from the Midwest and Northeast. The average overnight visitor is between the ages of 26 and 46.
In a recent marketing study performed by North Star Destination Strategies, a phone polling showed that most visitors to Lake Fork have an income of $75,000 or less, consider themselves amateur fishermen and women and consider Lake Fork the best lake for bass fishing. Respondents overwhelmingly named Tyler and Jefferson as small towns near the lake as the best getaway destination. (We are working on recognition for Sulphur Springs).
Only 17% of those randomly interviewed were familiar with Lake Fork. 36% of the potential tourists had not visited the Lake Fork area. Some of the top reasons include, “Don’t Have Time” and “Unaware of things to do there”. When asked, “What would make you more likely to visit Lake Fork and the surrounding area?” the largest response was, “Better promotions and information available”.
87% of tourists who visited surrounding Lake Fork communities, like Sulphur Springs, indicated a perception change in a positive way. The top three influencers on how a planned trip was determined where the following (most influential first): 1 – Welcome Center materials; 2 – Friend/Family Reference; and 3 – Internet.
150,000 visitors can have a great local economic impact. Suppose each visitor spent an average of $10 total, the direct impact would be $1.5 million. The indirect impact could be roughly an additional $5 - $10 million per year. It is our task to create an automatic association between Lake Fork and Sulphur Springs. If someone in Illinois thinks of visiting Lake Fork, they should immediately think of visiting our community. We should be considered the Gateway to Lake Fork regarding Lake Fork Tourists.